The Milky Way Galaxy is typically thought to be a flat, spiral disk. But, new research from astronomers at Macquarie University suggest our home galaxy is warped. By studying the positions of certain well-understood stars, researchers were able to create the first 3D model of our home galaxy. They found that the Milky Way has a slight “s” shape when viewed from the side. Torque caused by the movement of stars closer to the center the galaxy appear to be causing the effect.Read More It’s Not Just You – The Galaxy IS Warped, After All!
The Parker Solar Probe has just completed its first orbit of the Sun, as it studies the surface and atmosphere of our parent star. This mission was launched in August 2018, as the most ambitious mission ever to study the Sun. The spacecraft will help answer questions about solar science, including the mysteries of why the atmosphere of the Sun is hotter than its surface, and the origin of the solar wind. The mission is scheduled to last seven years, during which time the vehicle will also make seven close passes of the planet Venus.Read More Weee! Parker Solar Probe Completes First Trip Around the Sun
For just the second time in history, astronomers have witnessed a repeating fast radio burst. These events are formed far beyond our galaxy, and release more energy in a small fraction of a second than our Sun produces in decades. Researchers are uncertain what causes this phenomenon, although they may be the result of black holes or ultra-dense neutron stars colliding with each other. The event was witnessed by researchers at the new CHIME radio telescope in Canada, as that instrument underwent early testing. Only 60 of these events have ever been recorded, and this is just the second one ever seen repeating. Once CHIME is fully operational, astronomers hope to see several dozen fast radio bursts every day.Read More Second Repeating Radio Burst Seen – Are Aliens Behind These Odd Events?
For the first time ever, astronomers may have seen the birth of a black hole, or possibly a neutron star. Each of these types of bodies are the remnants of supermassive stars which collapsed under gravity after they ran out of fuel. Researchers in Hawaii spotted a tremendous burst of energy between 10 and 100 times more massive than that released by a supernova explosion, That event released particles which flew apart at 10 percent of the speed of light, before dissipating 10 days later. The event took place 200 million years ago, before the age of the dinosaurs, but due to the great distance to object, the energy from it is just reaching Earth now.Read More The Birth of a Black Hole Seen for the First Time (or was it a Neutron Star?)
The Milky Way Galaxy is headed for a collision with the Large Magellanic Cloud in about 2.4 billion years, new research has found. Astronomers previously thought this satellite galaxy of the Milky Way would pass harmlessly by our home galaxy. But, new observations show it contains twice as much dark matter as previously believed, sending it on a collision course with our local family of stars. Galactic collisions are fairly common, and we are also due to collide with the much larger Andromeda galaxy, just over four billion years in the future.Read More Milky Way Galaxy Headed for Collision – Brace Yourselves, Here Comes the Large Magellanic Cloud!
The rings of Saturn are disappearing, new research has determined. Particles of rock and ice which make up this magnificent system of rings are falling into the atmosphere of the planet, draining the system of material. Astronomers estimate the rings will be completely gone in just 100 million years, so see them before they disappear forever!Read More Saturn is Losing its Rings – See them Before They’re Gone!
A new exoplanet orbiting Bernard’s Star, just six light years from Earth, has been detected by astronomers. This frozen world orbits the cool red dwarf star at about the same distance as that which separates the Sun and Mercury. Life is unlikely to be found on the frigid surface, but the techniques used to discovery this world could allow astronomers to find a treasure trove of other worlds orbiting alien stars.Read More Howdy Neighbor! Frozen Super-Earth Discovered Orbiting Bernard’s Star
The Parker Solar Probe became the fastest spacecraft in history on October 29, as it came closer to the Sun than any other vehicle. The spacecraft reached speeds of nearly 247,000 kilometers per hour, or more than 153,000 miles per hour, faster than any other man-made object. Parker also came within 42.7 million kilometers or 26.6 million miles, of our stellar companion. The spacecraft was launched on August 12th 2018.Read More Parker Solar Probe Flies Faster and Closer to the Sun than Any Previous Mission
Astronomers have discovered a previously-unknown dwarf planet, nicknamed Goblin, orbiting beyond the orbit of Neptune. This tiny world takes 40,000 years to travel once around the Sun, and it never comes closer than 65 times the distance between the Earth and our parent star. Computer simulations show the orbit of this world may be influenced by a distant, larger body astronomers are dubbing Planet X.Read More Goblin the Dwarf Planet Discovered at the Edge of the Solar System
Planet Nine could exist at the most distant reaches of our solar system, according to observations of the orbits of far-flung objects. This theoretical world would be 10 times as massive as Earth, and take between 10 and 20,000 years to orbit the Sun. However, such a planet would be so dark and distant that some astronomers speculate it may be 1,000 years before we discover it.Read More Is Planet Nine Hiding at the Edge of the Solar System?